Nov. 16 2020 06:00 AM

Learn how to write an eye-catching job posting that gets results.

What do your job posting and furniture for sale on Craigslist have in common? More than you think!

We have all done it: Browsing through the online classifieds, you come across a photo of what looks like a perfectly decent couch. Why, you ask yourself, has nobody bought this? It looks in reasonably good shape. But clearly if no one is interested, there must be a problem with it! So you move on.

See the connection? I believe that job postings are stories that need to be told in various forms. If they sit on your career site like old pieces of furniture, they will be disregarded by candidates based purely on the fact that nobody else seems interested.

Hiring and labor challenges are frequently cited as top issues in the green industry. It takes just a few extra minutes to put together a message that is interesting, different and unique. Most jobs have something cool about them. You just need to ask enough questions about the position to find those interesting points. The goal is to pique a casual job seeker’s interest and stand out from the crowd, thus increasing the likelihood of someone applying and increasing your overall candidate pool.

Attention should also be given to how a posting is written. Word choice plays a big part in how a job resonates with different groups of people. By enlisting a diverse team to give you feedback on your posting you can create an inclusive message that will attract a broader and more diverse candidate pool. To keep a posting inclusive, balance the masculine- and feminine- themed words, and avoid jargon and buzzwords that would appeal to only insiders.

There are several tools that are useful for flagging gender-coded language, including Gender Decoder for Job Ads, which is free, and Textio Hire, which must be purchased.

Before you write a job posting, you need to truly understand the job and nail down the requirements. Often job descriptions are a laundry list of tasks that don’t really even make sense. Many times, I have read a job description only to say at the end, “I’m not really sure what a person in this role even does!” To get to the heart of a role, talk to people who are doing the job. Ask them about the important aspects of the job. What would someone do in the first six to 12 months of this role? That can help you come up with an accurate and understandable representation of a job. Resist the temptation to throw in “everything and the kitchen sink” into the description.

To determine the requirements of a job, look to the top performers in that role. What background and skills do these individuals possess? What work styles and competencies make them successful?

There is a trend in job listings to focus less on “hard skills” such as a certain number of years of experience, a degree or particular technical skills. Thought leaders in recruiting are now encouraging companies to think about potential over experience, urging leaders to look at the skill set that is needed to perform a job versus a specific degree or years of experience.

Once you have a good job description, you are ready to tackle a posting. It is worth investing a few minutes of your time to write something specific for posting rather than using the job description. While a posting needs to be accurate, it is more of a marketing document. It doesn’t have to cover every aspect of the role, just the major responsibilities.

Ask (and answer) the following four questions to create a compelling job posting:

1. What will a person get to learn in this role?

Most candidates are not looking to do the same job at the same pay in a different company. To compete for the best talent, you need to highlight what someone can learn in a position. The chance to acquire new skills can be very interesting to candidates as it builds on their background and experience base. Are there new tools or technologies this role will be working with? What about the opportunity to stretch into new areas? These items should be included in a job posting to differentiate your role and intrigue top performers.

2. What career growth is available?

Don’t overlook outlining the career growth for a role. What are the opportunities for advancement, both career progression and professional advancement? Are there certification opportunities?

Cross-functional projects? What are the available career paths both laterally as well as promotions? According to Inc. magazine, career growth is the second most important factor to job seekers, right after salary and compensation but ahead of location and commute. A good story about career growth can be a game changer.

3. What interesting projects will they work on?

Think through what is interesting in the work to be done and highlight some of those projects. Are you implementing new systems that this position would be part of? Are you transforming the business? Will this role get to help define new processes or policies? Talented people want to work on interesting projects where they can contribute and see the impact of their work. Make sure to be specific about the types of projects or work that will be done. Including a list of objectives for the first six to 12 months is one way to highlight the real work of a position as well as give a realistic preview of the role.

4. Why is this a great job?

Put your sales hat on and think what you would say to a really great candidate about why they should take this job. Certainly, your company and culture are important components, but don’t stop there. What specifically about this job makes it exciting? What impact can a person have in this role? What visibility? Who would this person work with? Weave all of those aspects into a story for your job posting.

Looking for some inspiration? Check out the following career sites:

  • T-Mobile has always had an innovative look and snappy descriptions that pop.
  • Shake Shack does a great job of keeping the posting short and interesting plus highlighting benefits.
  • SiteOne Landscape Supply has a strong career site and robust content and descriptions.

In today’s workplace where everyone has more to do and fewer hours, it can be easy to take the path of least resistance. However, it pays off to invest time upfront putting together compelling job postings rather than spending hours trying to generate interest with boring job descriptions used in your listings.

An interesting and unique posting will have candidates seeking out your job versus you trying to sell it like an old, outdated couch.

Kate Kjeell is president of TalentWell, a recruiting firm that specializes in helping small and midsized businesses thrive by finding and hiring the right people. The firm’s approach can be described in three words: find, fit, flourish. She can be reached at kate@talentwellinc.com.